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Dodgers notes: Clayton Kershaw, Shohei Ohtani, offseason grades

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Dodgers vs Giants in Los Angeles, CA.

After an eventful offseason where the Dodgers spent roughly $1.2 billion, the 2024 team is shaping up to be one of the best teams in all of baseball— on paper.

The most recent addition the team made— re-signing franchise icon Clayton Kershaw for his 17th season in Dodger blue— brings a jolt of excitement for fans who wish to see their former franchise face deliver a final sendoff in the twilight of his career.

The decision for Kershaw’s return was sparked mainly by the calamity that was his most recent start in Game 1 of the 2023 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, however returning for another season after receiving shoulder surgery was the toughest decision that Kershaw has made in his life.

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes about Kershaw’s decision to return, noting how Kershaw doesn’t have a definitive timetable for his return to the mound.

“I really never made a big decision in my life,” said Kershaw who reported to Camelback Ranch and took his physical Thursday. “I got drafted by the Dodgers. I married the same girl from high school. I didn’t have many decisions to make along the way. This was really kind of the first offseason where I had some choices to make and it wasn’t easy... Honestly I think summer is about as good as I can do,” he said. “It’s probably not early summer. … I hate saying a timetable because if I go below it or beyond it, it’s not good. But I would say July-ish, August-ish. Somewhere in there. I don’t know.”

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Kershaw has now had the chance to talk about superstar Shohei Ohtani being his new teammate.

David Brandt of the Associated Press writes about Kershaw’s return to the Dodgers, noting how the soon-to-be 36-year old felt about Ohtani handling the pressures that will come with playing for a perennial playoff caliber team.

“He seems like he’s got a great head on his shoulders and he can handle it,” Kershaw said. “Honestly, it should be good for our other guys. Mookie (Betts), Freddie (Freeman) are superstars in their own right, but the attention is going to be on Shohei 24/7.”

Alden Gonzalez of ESPN has more on Kershaw’s prognosis after undergoing shoulder surgery, noting how not having to be ready to go by opening day has been a relief for the southpaw.

“The freedom of not trying to get ready for a full season is kind of nice,” Kershaw said. “It’s just going to be a sprint when I get back. There’s a little bit of comfort in that, honestly. You don’t have to be ready April 1st. You can be ready whenever that is in the summer and kind of be ready to go.”

With his 10-year, $700 million contract, Shohei Ohtani will become the richest player in Major League Baseball history when it is all said and done, but where does he rank among some of the richest athletes not only in Los Angeles, but in all of sports?

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times compares Ohtani’s earnings to that of fellow Los Angeles superstar LeBron James, as well as other top earning international athletes.

“Of course, Ohtani has agreed to defer $68 million of his salary each year. So, with $2 million in salary and $50 million in endorsements, where would Ohtani have ranked at $52 million? Among the 30 highest-paid athletes in the world.”

The Dodgers had an offseason for the ages, netting themselves the best overall player and starting pitcher on the market among other notable additions.

Tim Britton, Grant Brisbee, and Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic handed out offseason grades for all 30 teams, giving the Dodgers an A grade. The Dodgers were the only team in the National League to receive that grade, with the Baltimore Orioles being the only other team in baseball to receive an A grade.